If you watch Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS, there’s a Morro Bay connection. Mickey Christensen is a founding member of the organization. At 94 years young, she’s a country western music icon and still votes to select the year’s best entertainers.
“I vote country,” Mickey said, preferring traditional entertainers. She admitted her predicted winners might not reflect her favorites, “For male entertainer, Blake Shelton — for female either Miranda Lambert or Taylor Swift.”
She treasures a photo of Taylor Swift sitting on her lap at last year’s awards program.
“Taylor’s real,” she confirmed. “But my best memory is George Strait thanking me. He said I helped him and so many other country singers get where they are today.”
Her fame is posted at www.acmcountry.com: “In 1964, performers Eddie Miller and Tommy Wiggins teamed up with club owners Mickey and Chris Christensen to establish the Country and Western Music Academy. Their vision was to promote country music in the western 13 states with the support of artists based on the West Coast such as Johnny Bond, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, Roger Miller, Buck Owens, Wynn Stewart, Jimmy Wakely and Tex Williams.”
Mickey remembers each detail.
“My husband, Chris, and I moved to Long Beach because there weren’t many jobs in Iowa in 1941.”
While the love of her life served the war effort, she worked for McDonnell Douglas, then joined the music business as an operator fulfilling requests for telephone music boxes.
Ultimately, Chris owned a percentage of the jukebox company Melody Music, which grew to 400 locations. For 15 years, Mickey’s family made the rounds loading the records and posting “billboards” she typed.
Many recall Long Beach’s Pike’s Canteen on the pier and the popular C&M Corral, a live music dance club. Mickey owned and managed both.
Buck and Bonnie Owens were her first big-name hires before they made it.
Due to Mickey’s successful management skills, she was asked to save The Red Barrel club from financial closure.
“The musicians would hang out. Eddie Miller, who wrote ‘Release Me,’ and friends thought if they had an awards program like the Oscars, they could get work,” Mickey said.
“We had the first two ceremonies at our place. They moved it to the Palladium in 1966. Dick Clark took it national with television in 1972.”
Mickey was an active board member until she closed their club in 1971.
“For some reason, the nightclub business seemed to die, so we retired to enjoy family.”
With a lifetime of memories to share, Mickey now lives in Morro Bay with son and daughter-in-law Chris and Suzanne Christensen.
Reach Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.